Pioneer has announced that it's started shipping the world's first optical personal computer drive capable of reading and writing to the new BDXL Blu-ray format. The integration of additional layers into Blu-ray discs offers a single quadruple-layer storage capacity of up to 128GB, and will likely see the new device head straight for media professionals who need to archive broadcast quality, high-definition video.

First announced on the company's Japanese site in October, the new optical drive more than doubles existing storage capacity and is compatible with BD-R XL and BD-RE XL triple-layer (100GB) and BD-R XL quadruple-layer (128GB) discs. It will also read and write to most other formats, including CD, DVD and standard Blu-ray.

Pioneer has included some proprietary recording and playback enhancement technologies with the Windows-based BDR-206MBK drive, and also bundled some CyberLink software in there. Early birds will also get one 100GB BD-R XL disc free of charge with each drive. It carries a suggested retail price of US$199 and is available direct from the company or via Fry's Electronics.

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